Tisha B’Av 2021
Erev Tisha B’Av 2021. There is a place I like to go in the little bend at the bottom of the road that wraps around the ample body of Mount Gerizzim. There is no sign to it as there are no signs here, only an old rusty plaque on the mikveh, “Mikve Yosef Hatzaddik”. It’s a place you become revived in pools of water collected from the underground streams here. The first thing that comes to meet you is the pungent scent of the ripening fig. The trees cascade around, all glorifying in the moist ground in this sun baked month of Av. The darkness of their shade comforts in the glaring light. The mood is absolutely primitive, the fields crumble grey hot earth. There are low walls of mossy grey stones embedded into the slope of the mountain defining a claim to territory, old and ancient. The sky, a forever blue yet the picture not complete. Beyond the summit of the mountain, above and over the sharp edge that separates this paradise of myrtle and early autumn leaves and the drip drip drip of the sparkling water and the quiet, a tire is burning. I can just make out the burning smoke as I remember Dina taken by Shechem there. It is a place on the edge, of evil trying to meet and overcome decency and honor.
When Ya’akov Avinu returned home he knew no peace here. Maybe THAT is why he was called Yisrael. There is no safe border. We are all living on the edge. On this day we have a custom to wear ash. I take some out, from the tomb of Yosef. When we need to, we are a nation of warriors. You have entered My chambers and defiled. On this Tisha B’av we not only mourn here. We do. One by one the fragments are collected, like the drip the remnants come to revive. This is the heart of Yisrael. Skeletons of stolen cars pile up on the border of the mountain, gunshots you can hear from the valley. But the bubble of the fountain as it ebbs and wanes in this heat has me mesmerized. I have no doubt a rush of water will come forth. This is the heart of Israel.
“For thus saith the Lord of hosts: It is a little while and I will shake the heavens and earth, and the sea, and the dry land, I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory… in this place I will give peace, sayeth the Lord of hosts.” Chaggai 2